Skip to main content

Court of Appeal upholds High Court ruling that detained fast track system is unlawful


Lord Chancellor's appeal against June ruling that the Detained Fast Track appeals process is unlawfully unfair is dismissed

Date of Publication:

Detention Action reported today that the Court of Appeal has dismissed the Lord Chancellor's appeal against the High Court ruling in June that the Detained Fast Track (DFT) appeals process is unlawfully unfair to asylum-seekers.

Image credit: WikipediaEIN members can read the judgment in The Lord Chancellor v Detention Action [2015] EWCA Civ 840 here.

Detention Action notes that the judgment found that the Fast Track Rules (FTR) governing the appeals process are "systemically unfair and unjust" because "the time limits are so tight as to make it impossible for there to be a fair hearing of appeals in a significant number of cases."

The Master of the Rolls Lord Justice Dyson stated in the judgment: "The object of the [Secretary of State for the Home Department] in placing asylum appeals in the fast track is the entirely laudable one of dealing with them quickly. This is not because she considers that they are all hopeless cases. Far from it. Although many of the appeals are dismissed, many succeed. They are placed in the fast track so that they can be handled quickly and efficiently. But the consequences for an asylum seeker of mistakes in the process are potentially disastrous. That is why section 22(4) of the [Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007] recognises that justice and fairness should not be sacrificed on the altar of speed and efficiency. As I have explained, the FTR do not strike the correct balance between (i) speed and efficiency and (ii) fairness and justice. It is too heavily weighted in favour of the former and needs to be adjusted. Precisely how that is done is a matter for the TPC and Parliament."

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire announced on 2 July 2015 that the fast track system would be suspended following a number of court rulings that it was operating unlawfully. He said, however, that he hoped the system would only be suspended for a short time. Detention Action says today's ruling is likely to be "a serious setback to this aspiration."

BBC News says that the decision could have major implications for hundreds of cases where applicants for asylum have lost their case during an accelerated legal process, while being held in detention. According to BBC News, some 323 asylum seekers have been released from detention in the past month, 200 of whom had already had their claims rejected.

In response to today's ruling, a government spokesperson told the Guardian: "We are disappointed with the outcome of this appeal. Notably, the judgment recognises the government’s aim of processing asylum appeals as quickly as possible. We regard fast track as an important part of our immigration system and the courts do not oppose this principle. We are seeking further permission to appeal."

The Law Gazette reported that government confirmed it will seek to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.